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Learn to make a soufflé? I’ve got better things to do

I’ve reached an age where I can proudly say there are certain things in life that it’s just not worth starting

By the time you read this I will have celebrated my 49th birthday and, while I hope I don’t look a day over 48, I know it will be a moment for reflection. As I enter my 50th year, it will be a time for acknowledging all the things I have never done, especially in the kitchen. I like to think of myself as a competent cook, one who can roast and grill and simmer. I can make terrines and reduce sauces and knock up onion tarts from scratch. I know how to use spices from North Africa, India and Asia in ways that make sense, and anybody who has tried my braised lamb shoulder will talk of nothing else. As long as they’re sitting in front of me and I’m asking them repeatedly “HOW WAS IT?” and refusing to let them leave until I feel better about myself.

But I’ve never made a soufflé. It’s not that I’ve tried and failed. I’ve never even started. Don’t get me wrong. I adore a good soufflé. It’s just never struck me as something I should make for myself. By the same token I have never made a béarnaise sauce or, come to think of it, a hollandaise. Though I have made mayonnaise. It was a mildly satisfying process, but left me wondering why I’d bothered when I could have used the time making an onion tart, given how serviceable shop-bought mayonnaise is.

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